Sorbet’s founder on the power of servant leadership

Ian Fuhr believes that if you truly want to run a successful store – no matter the industry – you need to put people first.

sbSorbet receives 40 franchise applications per week. Its franchisees don’t sell their stores, and the biggest challenge the group faces is finding new locations, since there’s already a Sorbet in almost every great retail location in Jo’burg and Cape Town.

What makes this brand so successful? Founder Ian Fuhr says a strong factor is the company’s ‘servant leadership’ model, which all franchisees and employees embrace and follow.

The ‘servant leadership’ model

For Fuhr, if you focus on people and service, the money will follow. Focus on money, and people will get lost – the people in your store, your customers and any future customers. Happy people provide great service. It’s that simple.

Here are 4 ways you can keep your employees happy, motivated and customer service extraordinaires:

  1. Understand the concept of servant leadership

“This is about changing your mind-set from what you do to why you do it,” says Fuhr. “In our case, what we do is sell treatments and products. But why we do it is because we love it when people feel good about themselves. You need to start with the why. Everyone on your staff needs to embrace what they are doing for clients. It gives their jobs far more meaning and purpose than the ‘what’ can ever do.”

  1. Take care of your staff so that they pay it forward

“Do your remuneration packages reward employees who work hard and go the extra mile? Are they able to have some control over their own earning power? The more you put their success in their own hands, the more loyal people will be to you, your business and your mutual clients.”

Sorbet achieved this by changing from a basic salary to a commission-based remuneration structure. If this doesn’t work for your specific industry, find other ways to reward great work ethics and attitudes.

  1. Put people first

In Sorbet’s case, treatments are similar but people are different. This is as true for food or other-product based franchises. If you treat every customer who walks through the door as an individual, you’re more likely to give them good service, instead of expecting them to simply be grateful they’re giving you their money.

  1. Never stop training and upskilling

Sorbet follows a model whereby technicians are constantly able to upskill themselves. The higher their skill level, the bigger their commission, so learning and development are encouraged by the business model. If your franchise isn’t able to offer a commission-based structure, don’t let that deter you from training your staff. Well trained staff are confident and better equipped to offer excellent service.

Source: Standard Bank BizConnect

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